Missouri Blacks' Rate of Homicide Victimization Is Again Highest in U.S.



For the fourth year in a row, Missouri leads the nation in an unhappy statistic: the rate of homicide victimization for its black residents.

Put simply, black residents of Missouri suffer from homicides at a rate 2.5 times higher than their counterparts in other states — and a rate ten times higher than the rate across the nation for people of all races.

The newly released report from the Violence Policy Center looks at comprehensive FBI data from 2015, the most year available. It echoes the group's findings that surveyed 2014, 2013 and 2012. (In 2011, the state was second only to Nebraska.)

In 2015, 332 Missouri blacks were the victims of homicides, a rate of 46.24 per 100,000 residents. That's an increase from 34.98 in 2014, which was itself a four-point increase from 2013.

The group notes that the homicide rate for blacks in the U.S. is already quite high — 18.6 victims for every 100,000 people.

“Each day in America, the number of black homicide victims exceeds the toll in the Parkland, Florida mass shooting. And just like Parkland and other mass shootings, these deaths devastate families, traumatize whole communities, and should provoke an outcry for change," the Violence Policy Center's executive director, Josh Sugarmann, said in a prepared statement. "The devastating and disproportionate impact homicide, almost always involving a gun, has on black men, boys, women, and girls in America is an ongoing national crisis. We hope our research will help educate the public and policymakers, spur action, and aid community leaders already working to end this grave injustice."

In Missouri, the report says, the average age of black victims in 2015 was 29. Six percent — a total of 21 homicide victims across the state — were younger than eighteen. The vast majority (88.8 percent) were male.

The state's easy access to firearms appears to be a factor. The report explains, "For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 93 percent of victims (301 out of 325) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 52 percent (158 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 136 victims killed with firearms, type not stated. There were 11 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 5 victims killed by bodily force, and 3 victims killed by a blunt object."

Nationwide, the report notes, 86 percent of black homicide victims were killed with guns.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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